Colombia Leader Urges Global Battle Against Drug Cartels

Times Staff Writer

In an emotional appeal for global support, President Virgilio Barco Vargas of Colombia told the United Nations on Friday that his country stands in the front line of the “total war” waged against all nations by drug cartels, a war that he declared Colombia and the world must win.

The white-haired Latin leader won repeated applause as delegates cheered him for more than a minute--a far more positive response than that given to President Bush, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and other speakers in the first week of this year’s meeting of the General Assembly.

To those who might think that the drug crisis affects primarily producers in South America and users in North America, Barco said: “Cocaine’s tentacles are reaching into Europe and the Far East. The aggressive search for markets is no more respectful of oceans than it was of borders. Where there are customers, there will be suppliers.’


In his plan of action, Barco called first for the stemming of demand.

“Those who consume cocaine are contributing to the assassination of my people by the criminal drug cartels,” he said, conceding that a New Yorker “taking cocaine in the civilized calm of his living room” might object to this statement.

Barco said the message must go out that drugs “are neither fashionable nor harmless, whether consumed at the glittering parties of the wealthy or in the ghetto.”